Tuesday 16th August 2022 · Mike Smith
Sources: Xàbia AL Día / À Punt
After the record-breaking high temperatures of the weekend, the natural disaster that has been a consequence of that extreme weather has also reached historical figures and is on the verge of becoming the worst tragedy to affect the province of Alicante. By noon today (Tuesday), the area that has been devastated by the inferno that started on Saturday in the Vall d’Ebo has already reached 11,500 hectares and the flames have crossed the borders of the Marina Alta to enter the regions of Comtat and La Safor.
According to the latest update issued by the Provincial Firefighters Consortium, the area affected exceeds 11,500 hectares and the perimeter of the fire continues to grow to around 80 kilometres in length. Firefighters continue to work to try and bring the fire under control on its three fronts, an operation that involves some 300 people from the Provincial Firefighters Consortium, the Forest Firefighters and Brigades of the Provincial Council of Valencia as well as members of the Military Emergency Unit (UME).
According to the CV-112 Twitter account, they are being supported with 22 aerial units, eight from the Generalitat Valenciana and the Provincial Consortium, 11 from the Ministry of Ecological Transitions and three assigned to Castilla-La Mancha.
In addition, road access has been restricted to the valleys for security purposes and to prevent further incidents from occurring.
On Tuesday afternoon, the villages of Fageca, Tollos, Famorca, Margarida and Benimassot were evacuated as a precaution.
Update 17/08/22 (10:00): The Spanish Meteorological Agency AEMET has issued a yellow risk advisory for the potential for heavy rain and thunderstorms from 2.00pm Tuesday afternoon with the likelihood of hailstorms and strong winds during the evening.
The president of the Generalitat Valenciana, Ximo Puig, has described the situation in the Comunidad Valenciana as “very complicated”. Four fires are burning across the region; in Vall d’Ebo, Begís, Useres and Calles. While the last two have been brought under control in the last few hours – Calles is practically extinguished – the rest continue to run rampant and advance without control despite the efforts of the firefighters to contain them. “We still can’t give positive news”, lamented Puig, who put the number of personnel working on these two fires at around 1,000, supported by around 50 aerial vehicles.
The prime minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, sent a message of support to those affected by the three fires burning in the Comunidad Valenciana from the island of La Palma on Tuesday. Sánchez has also reiterated the government’s commitment to extinguishing the fires and recovering the land. He has attributed the start of these fires to the high temperatures.
The naturalist NGO Fundació Franz Weber has estimated that the fire that has been burning the Vall d’Ebo and neighbouring areas has caused the death of nearly 70,000 animals. The organization has made the calculations following the predictive models of the professor of the University of Sidney Christopher Dickman. It is based on the wave of fires that Australia suffered during 2020 and estimates that in every hectare of mountain there are between 10 and 15 animals of different species living together. Nevertheless, the association calculates that the approximate figure for fires declared in the Communidad Valenciana is “extremely conservative”, given the difficulties in knowing exactly the number of invertebrates and small species.